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12 Toxic chemicals in personal care products to avoid

Do you know which toxic products to avoid?

The biggest sources of toxicity may be the personal care product you use daily such as deodorant, hair products, cosmetics, fragrances, and even your toothpaste.


It shocked me to see over 200 toxic ingredients are used in commercial products which can disrupt your hormone levels, cause health symptoms, and are even cancer-causing.


In my Health For Life™ program, I analyze 25 of my clients’ most frequently used items to point out how many times they are exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals that can be listed under 6-20 different names each!  I research them all to help you make important changes for your long term health.


12 of the worst chemicals in your cosmetic and personal products:


Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic gas found in synthetics and preservatives.  Scientists have known formaldehyde as a carcinogen since 1980.  Sadly formaldehyde is used in nail polish, shampoo, deodorant, and hair products like dyes, relaxers, and straighteners.



Triclosan is a strong chemical that reduces bacterial contamination.  In late 2017, it was banned from antibacterial soap by the FDA for failing to prove it was safe.  Sadly, it was not banned from personal care products such as face wash/wipes, moisturizing creams, deodorant, hand sanitizers, facial tissues, toothpaste, mouthwash, shaving gel, and some cosmetics.

Triclosan is often contaminated with chloroform and dioxins that are linked to endocrine disruptions, allergic reactions, organ toxicity, escalated risk, and exacerbated asthma symptoms, eczema, and skin/eye/lung irritations. It also accumulates within the body!  The CDC found that out of 2,517 people, 75% of them showed triclosan in their urine.  It has been banned in Europe and Canada since 2010.



Dimethicone is a toxic cosmetic ingredient that is a polymer acting as a thickener, emollient, styling agent, and conditioner in cosmetics.  It is a synthetic silicone that adds softness or smoothness to the skin but also silly putty, caulk, kinetic sand, adhesives, aquarium sealants, and Rain-X car protectant. This soft feeling can block the skin’s pores, locking in the toxins.

Personal care products include sunscreens, body moisturizers, anti-aging products, lotions, hair care, facial serums, or moisturizer.  Ironically acne products contain it even though these polymers can create acne by blocking pores encouraging bacteria to grow in the toxins resulting in pustules.



Forms of parabens can be one of the most toxic cosmetic ingredients out there.  Acting as a preservative (like formaldehyde), this chemical kills bacteria in cosmetic products, but they have been deemed carcinogenic with links to breast cancer.  They are hormone disruptors that mimic estrogen in the body, damage DNA, irritate the skin, and may lead to fertility issues or congenital disabilities in babies.

They are often used in hair care, body wash, skin care products, and heavily in sunscreens.  You need to look for variations of the name.  Many companies are not marketing the fact that this chemical has been removed stating “Paraben Free”.


Coal Tar

If coal tar sounds like an ingredient that should not be within your home — you’re right!  Coal tar is a compound made from hydrocarbons, carbon, and water.  According to the American Cancer Society, coal tar is a known carcinogen.

Unlike the thick, black liquid tar you think of, coal tar brightens and saturates the color of lipsticks and eye shadows.  The bright color can have a toxic effect on the skin as it’s extremely heavy and leads to allergic reactions as well as skin breakouts.


MIT (Methylisothiazolinone)

MIT is another synthetic preservative like paraben to extend a product’s shelf-life.  Sadly, there are NO studies on MIT to test for the toxicity of these accumulated chemicals after years or decades of application.  Paid scientists have found that low levels of MIT were “safe in cosmetics”.  In 2010 clinical data from the Cosmetic Ingredient Review showed a large number of the population experience adverse or allergic reactions to MIT.

This chemical is linked to health risks to fetuses, allergic reactions, and neurotoxin issues.  They are frequently found in water-based cosmetics, hair care, body wash, skincare, and sunscreen.  Check products closely when labeled “paraben-free” for MIT.


Petroleum-based jelly, Mineral Oils, and Moisturizer

This is one of the cheapest lubricants or emollients manufacturers can use.  Its petro-ingredients are very often contaminated with impurities that are irritating to the skin, causing acne or even cancers.  Due to its inexpensive yet versatile use, it is in a lot of beauty and cosmetic products.  Europe requires historic proof of full refining to allow it in products.  They can also be involved in damaging your reproductive system.


1,4 Dioxane

1,4 dioxane is a carcinogenic, processed petroleum-based ingredient that is found in approximately 46% of cosmetics!  It is often a byproduct chemical of other chemical ingredients giving it the ability to NOT be listed on the ingredient label and not even required.  It is toxic to the central nervous system, heart, blood, liver, kidneys, immune system, brain, skin, and digestive system.  It can be in products such as shampoos, face washes, and liquid baby bath soaps.

This chemical is the leading cause of groundwater contamination and the Environmental Working Group has found it is in 22% of all products in some form and at unsafe levels.



Phthalates are found in many toxic cosmetics which may include nail polish, lipstick, hair spray, and skincare products containing plasticizers called phthalates.  It may be listed as “Fragrance”.  The chemical makes the products more flexible, soft, malleable, spreadable and improves their ability to bond to surfaces smoothly.  They are known to cause headaches, dizziness, asthma, hyperpigmentation, hormonal disruptions, ADHD, diabetes, and reproductive issues.  An epidemiology study done in 2016 found that 31% of pregnancies exposed to phthalates resulted in pregnancy loss.

The term fragrance can contain thousands of different chemicals and combinations with one or multiple forms of phthalates. It is often listed as fragrance, parfum, or scent.  The manufactures hide behind the danger by legally labeling them as “fragrance” often so beware.


Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl

Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl or SLS), which are surfactants making products foamy like face wash, hand soaps, face masks, shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, baby bath products, and detergents.  These chemicals dry out the skin by removing natural oils from your pores.  If you ever had to hand wash at work or a business with foaming soaps you will know how dry your hands will become quickly.

Often these chemicals will cause redness, irritation, and possible long-term issues.  Foaming face washes are commonly an issue with these symptoms.   This may seem to be an external issue for the surface of your skin but once they soak into the body they are harmful to your necessary enzymes that work to maintain your health leading to silent toxicity.



These three are ones to avoid.  Diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), and monoethanolamine (MEA).  They are petroleum-made, foaming emulsifiers that prevent the ingredients from separating like oil and water.  They are a part of ammonia compounds called ethanolamines.  These three are often found in hair dye, soap, shampoos, bubble baths, makeup, and cleansers.

They are banned entirely in Europe as studies show ethanolamines are linked to cancer, organ, and neural system toxicity, allergic reactions, skin damage, inflammation, and irritation.


Metalloestrogens or Heavy Metals

Many products are containing heavy metals called metalloestrogen which include arsenic, mercury, iron, chromium, nickel, copper, zinc, aluminum, and lead.  These are the metals we are looking for in your hair analysis results.  They are found in products such as hand lotions/creams, cosmetic products such as lip gloss, moisturizers, concealers, eye shadow, whitening toothpaste, eyeliner, foundations, blush, eye drops, nail polish, and sunscreens.

One example is aluminum which is used to block sweat in antiperspirants or skin lightening products.  It can significantly affect your cognitive function with accumulation as found with Alzheimer’s patients and breast cancer. Once these metals are stuck in tissue (including your organs or brain) they can not be eliminated easily and can accumulate to cause disease, symptoms, and illnesses.  There are too many symptoms beyond neuro-degenerative disease, lung cancer, skin irritation, etc. to mention here.  Again, these ingredients are illegal in Europe, Canada, and Japan yet the U.S. rarely regulates heavy metals in cosmetics.


Your skin is your largest elimination organ and a very important part of your immune system.  Just because a product says natural doesn’t mean it may not have harmful additives in it so read your labels.

Learn more about other common toxic products so you can eliminate even more sources!


If you would like assistance in identifying how many exposures you are subjecting yourself to, how to change your products, and detox your products along with your body, contact me today!


Copyright Scientific Nutrition, LLC 2021